Cellular Processes on a Chip
The Daniel Lab recreates cellular and synthetic processes as organelles-on-a-chip to biomimetically manufacture therapeutic molecules and materials. We do this to understand the biology of posttranslational modifications and coordinate cellular unit operations to define a minimal synthetic cell.
Background: Lipid Rafts
The cell membrane is composed of myriad proteins and biomolecules existing in a patchwork lipid matrix of different phases. This heterogeneity regulates if and when certain species interact. This is done by either sequestering or excluding species from regions of membrane composition until stimuli changes the partitioning preference. Partitioning preference is governed by hydrophobic, electrostatic, and steric forces. It is mediated by the properties of lipids composing the phase. These lipid regions are called microdomains or lipid rafts.
Background: Current Methodologies
Current biochemical methods are inadequate for identifying residents of these regions or monitoring changes between them.
The Daniel Lab Innovations
The Daniel Lab invented an approach which allows control of the spatial and temporal location of different lipid phases within a platform. This allows us to determine when species interact. We do this by combining microfluidic patterning and supported lipid bilayers. Using this technology, we study:
- Kinetics of phase changes and partitioning.
- Stimuli which change partitioning of species between phases.
- How changes in protein-lipid interactions impact protein structure, activity level, and biological function.
What We’re Working On Now
The Daniel Lab pioneered a new method to create supported lipid bilayers manufactured directly from cell plasma membranes. There was no previous way to transport membrane proteins and native lipids to these platforms, while maintaining orientations and not scrambling them between leaflets.
Why this Research Matters
The impact of the newest innovation of the Daniel Lab is twofold.
- First, detergent reconstitution and associated issues can be avoided.
- Second, target proteins can be expressed into cells and delivered to the SLB.